In 1896, Thomas Pitt deals with the challenges of becoming chief of Scotland Yard’s Central Branch. With the support of his wife Charlotte, he confronts not the domestic police work at which he excels but international intrigue, including a possible plot to blow up railroad connections to assassinate a visiting Austrian archduke. His self-doubt and earnest desire to do the right thing to protect innocent lives make him an easy hero to identify with. Longtime fans of this series and new readers alike will be rooting for him as he fights to prove that despite his humble social origins he is up to the job he has been given. The period detail brings the Victorian era to life, the plot’s twists and turns keep you guessing, and the novel builds to a satisfying climax.
I tend to prefer Perry’s William Monk novels to this series, because Monk’s complexity and flaws make him so much more than a generic sleuth. However, in this book Pitt acquires additional depth as a character, and gives Monk a run for his money, making this historical mystery one of Perry’s best.